Ask Amy: About dating black men

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

bio | email

DEAR AMY: I am a 19-year-old college student. I date on rare occasions. My father has raised me to be open-minded and to look for a guy who makes me feel amazing, unless he's African-American (I'm white). My father is racist and has said to my face that he will disown me if I become committed to a man of that race.

The older I become, the more I am attracted to black men. I really want to respect my father and live up to his expectations (and that of my extended family, who share his ideology). But is it right to follow my heart and date whomever I choose?

Unsure in South Carolina

DEAR UNSURE: I think of your attraction as an understandable, inevitable reaction to the deficit of reason, logic and old-fashioned family values in your household. Denying your right to date whomever you want to date forces you and your family into an ancient dance of forbidden love (for cultural references, read about Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet, Miss Piggy and ... everyone).

If you choose to date an African-American man, you must understand that this is high-stakes behavior on your part. Though some families are transformed by being forced to face these issues, you should assume your family is actually capable of following through on their threat to cut you off completely. Follow your heart, but prepare yourself.

DEAR AMY: I am a grad student with somewhat limited funds. I save up for really nice Christmas presents for my friends, and I try to make gifts personal.

I've always done this because I want that person to feel special. Although my friends make decent incomes, it's clear they don't spend very much on presents and don't make them personal.

I know it is the thought that counts, but it seems to me they didn't put much thought into it at all! I wish I didn't feel hurt, but I do. What should I do?

Disappointed

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: You need to explore why you are giving gifts. Are your gifts a reflection of your tastes and values and an expression of your natural generosity, or do you use gifts to inspire other people to give equally to you? You should not put more money or time into your gift-giving than you have to spare -- happily, willingly and without expectation. When you free yourself from an expectation of reciprocity, you may end up adjusting your giving so it's less stressful for you. You will definitely receive more pure joy from the act of giving.